(BURBANK, CA) — Phil Everly, one-half of the legendary singing duo The Everly Brothers, died Friday in Burbank, California, his wife tells the Los Angeles Times. He was 74.
Patti Everly told the paper that Phil died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by a lifetime of smoking. “We are absolutely heartbroken,” she added. “He fought long and hard.”
Together with his brother Don, Phil scored a string of hits in the late ’50s and early ’60s, including such classics as “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Cathy’s Clown” and “Bird Dog.” The brothers’ harmony sound influenced generations of musicians, including The Beach Boys and the Beatles, and they were among the very first acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Paul McCartney name-checked the Everly Brothers in his 1976 smash hit “Let ‘Em In,” mentioning “Phil and Don” in the lyrics. Simon & Garfunkel, who cited the Everlys as one of their main influences, scored their final Top 40 hit as a duo with a live cover version of “Wake Up Little Susie” in 1981. Such was the duo’s influence that just this past year, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones — two musicians who couldn’t be more different — teamed up to record an entire album of Everly Brothers cover songs, called Foreverly.
The Everly Brothers had an acrimonious breakup in 1973 and reportedly didn’t speak to one another for a decade. But in 1983, they reunited, and continued to record with each other and with other musicians in a wide variety of genres.
The Everly Brothers hold the record for the most Top 100 singles by any music duo. In 1997, they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. They have also been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
In a statement, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow praised the Everly Brothers’ “superb and flawless harmonies,” and added, “Their profound impact on pop and rock music is still heard today, and will continue to live on in future generations. Phil Everly was a groundbreaking artist and he leaves an indelible and timeless mark on music and our industry.”
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